Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

BUGBEE, H. D. (1900-1963)

At the suggestion of his cousin, cattleman T. S. Bugbee, Harold Dow Bugbee came to Clarendon in the Texas Panhandle from Lexington, Massachusetts (where he was born on August 15, 1900), with his parents in 1914. He studied at Texas A&M College in 1917 and the Cumming School of Art in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1920. Each fall, until the late 1930s, Bugbee traveled to Taos to paint with his fellow artists "Buck" Dunton, Frank Hoffman, Leon Gaspard, and Ralph Meyers, often packing into the mountains to paint with either Meyers or Dunton. Advised by Panhandle-Plains cattlemen Frank Collinson and Charles Goodnight and inspired by the example of his idol, Charles M. Russell, Bugbee portrayed historic and then-contemporary Southern Plains life, including cowboys, Native Americans, and flora and fauna of the region.

By the mid-1920s galleries in Denver, Chicago, Kansas City, and New York handled Bugbee's work. In 1933, with the Great Depression and decreasing picture sales, Bugbee turned to magazine illustration, a practice he maintained for some eighteen years. He did pen-and-ink illustrations for Ranch Romances, Western Stories, Country Gentleman, and Field and Stream, among others. Additionally, Bugbee also illustrated a number of significant books on western history, including J. Evetts Haley's Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman (1936), Willie N. Lewis's Between Sun and Sod (1938), and S. Omar Barker's Songs of the Saddlemen (1954). He also continued to make easel paintings.

Under Roosevelt's New Deal, Bugbee painted the first of five murals for the Panhandle- Plains Historical Museum's Pioneer Hall in 1934. He later painted additional murals for the Amarillo Army Air Field and a set of murals on Native American life for the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. He exhibited at the Tri- State Fair at Amarillo, the Fort Worth Frontier Centennial Exposition in 1936, the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition at Dallas in 1937, and in the annual West Texas art exhibitions in Fort Worth. He also had numerous solo exhibitions in Texas and exhibited in Taos. In 1951 Bugbee became the first curator of art at Panhandle-Plains, a position he held until his death at Clarendon on March 27, 1963. More than 230 Bugbee works are part of the museum's collection.

Michael R. Grauer Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

McClure, C. Boone. "Harold Dow Bugbee: A Biographical Sketch." Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 30 (1957): 55– 67.

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